Last Minute Tips for the Hong Kong Marathon by 5-Time Champion JoeJoe Fan
Posted on February 02 2023
Last update on Feb 2, 2023
When it comes to marathons in Hong Kong, there are few that can match the resume of Hong Kong running legend, JoeJoe Fan. She is a 5-time women's HK Marathon champion (local) and boasts a PB time of 2:48:58 at the 2008 Berlin Marathon.
So, who better to get a few marathon tips from than JoeJoe herself?
Last Minute Marathon Tips by JoeJoe Fan
As the big day approaches, runners always ask me what they should do in the last 2 weeks prior to a race. Well, I have consolidated 11 things I used to do before a big race that I would like to share with you.
1. Do Yasso 800 Sessions
Yasso 800 x 10 – Well, this isn't exactly a last minute tip, but if you are still wondering what your marathon time may be, you may consider this. I find that Yasso 800 sessions are very useful in determining or predicting my final time in a marathon. However, keep in mind that Yasso 800s should be referenced in conjunction with other marathon specific training.
2. Be Quick but Don't Rush
I once wrote a blog for HK Marathon talk about race pace 👉🏻 No Rush but have to be Quick - Talk about how you should run your marathon on race day. First 5-10K is vital as most runners tend to start too fast with the atomsphere and easily follow others not same pace as yours. Make sure you run accordingly to your race plan and listen to your body adjust anytime it's not as plan. It’s a 42.195K run, so the vital challenge is to keep your body moving constantly in the 2nd half of the race especially the hilly bit at 23K and 34K. I see a lot of runners setting off too quickly which leads to lactic acid build up and probable muscle cramps or runners “hitting the wall” after 30K. If you do worry to encounter muscle cramp, I highly recommend you bring 1-2 sachet of Crampfix along with you. It's game changer and works for 99.9% of runners I have recommended.
3. Body Fully Recovered and Stretch Before Race
Make sure your body has fully recovered before the race – there is not much you can do to improve your fitness in the last 2 weeks before race day. However, there is something you can do to speed up your muscle recovery ie. Easy jogging, Massage, stretching (especially calves and pelvas). I usually spare the full Saturday rest at home and make sure plenty of stretch to prepare the race. When your pelvas loosen up and each strike feel lighter or maybe 1cm wider, it will make your run a different one.
4. Add Beetroot Juice to Diet
Add beetroot juice to your diet for 6 days leading up to the race and take a shot 30mins before the race. (need >400mg of nitrate to increase oxygen take up by 2-3%). Carbo-load (not fat loading) 2-3 days before the race and electrolyte load one day before the big day.
5. Take Amino Acids During Race
Amino Acid (BCAA) – This is useful as it ensure your legs are recovering during the run. You may take 2000-3000mg before the race and 1000mg every hour during the race. It’s easier to take BCAAs if your energy gels already have them as part of its ingredients. For after the race, I recommend taking 3000-4000mg.
6. Relax Your Body
The full marathon’s first gun starts at 6:10am which means you need to wake up around 3:00-3:30am to get ready. If you want to have an afternoon nap or try to sleep early Saturday night outside of your usual sleeping time, you might try a light massage at lunch time or putting your feet inside a bucket of warm water to relax your body for a better sleep.
7. Eat a Carbohydrate-rich Breakfast
Have a big carbohydrate-rich dinner the night before and breakfast (rice, potato, pasta etc.) on race day recommend at least 2.5 hours before the gun. This could make sure your glycogen level is stocked up before the race for more energy. Drink more fluid (water and electrolyte) an hour before gun start. Also, as stated earlier, a beetroot juice 30mins before race.
8. Warm up Before Race
Arrive an hour early for a stress-free bag drop or perhaps a toilet break if needed. Warm up and stretch and add a few short sprints to make sure your body is ready for the race. If you don’t have an elite start, you can line-up earlier to ensure better positioning when the race starts.
9. Refuel During Race
Energy Refuelling During Race - Your body can absorb 150-200 calories every hour, so, I usually make sure I have around 100 calories (Tailwind or any energy gel could work) intake every 40mins to make sure I have enough energy for my next hour. If the weather is cold, I will likely take the energy a bit earlier. Caffeinated fuel could be taken after half way as well.
10. Maintain Proper Running Form
Keep reminding yourself to “relax” – and keep a proper running form – a relaxed running form helps you be more economical and save energy during your race. Less energy wasted on unnecessary work allows you to focus on your real race.
11. Take a Recovery Drink
Recovery Drinks – Runners could be really excited after crossing the finish line and I see a lot runners sitting down in Victoria Park and looking for mates to catch up with and share their run experience. Well, I will recommend getting your recovery drinks in (Tailwind Recovery is my usual pick because it made with premium rice protein which include 9 type BCAA and taste delicious) within the golden 30 minutes after the race - aim for a 3:1 or 4:1 ratio of carbs (restores glycogen) to protein (muscle rebuilding). After that, change and catch up with your mates. Your legs will thank you as they will feel very different the next day.
For all your marathon fuelling needs, check out here.
— with JoeJoe Fan